Claude vs. Ivan
「All right, let’s begin. Ready?」
Claude and Ivan stood five meters apart, facing each other. Ivan had a great sword, while Claude had a one-handed sword with a blade about a meter long. Both were practice swords, but they would still hurt.
Claude immediately tried to close the distance, thinking Ivan had his guard down with the tip of his sword on the ground.
「Don’t think it’ll go that easy, Claude!」
Ivan quickly raised his sword, flinging sand into Claude’s face. Caught by surprise, the latter closed his eyes.
Ivan took one step, ready to mow his opponent down with a full swing.
「Block it, Claude! Or you’re dead!」
With two hands on his sword, Claude tried to block the great sword.
But the force overpowered him, sending him tumbling a few meters away.
Luka ran towards him, screaming.
「Stop. Withdraw your sword, Ivan.」
Ivan was actually amazed he won in one strike.
「I never even hit Hikaru once.」
「Maybe you got faster from fighting someone who keeps dodging your attacks left and right?」
「Perhaps. It’s like you were a different Ivan.」
Ivan and the Jarazack students were talking among themselves.
Hands on the ground, Claude staggered as he stood up. Luka had to support him.
「Are you okay?」
「Just a few bruises… I don’t think anything’s broken.」Claude said, rubbing his arms.
His practice sword itself wasn’t broken. He was sent flying from pure power.
「You’re quite something, Ivan. I didn’t expect you to be this strong.」
Claude sounded frustrated. Ivan simply cocked his head, puzzled.
「Professor Mikhail is way stronger than me yet Hikaru beat him.」
Claude glanced at Hikaru, despair on his face.
「You knew from the start that you couldn’t win if you fought head-on. But you still did it anyway. Reckless.」Hikaru said.
「I, uhh… That’s true. I thought I could land an attack first if I acted quickly. I just didn’t expect the dust.」
「Hikaru did that to us. I know how you feel, dude. It startled me as well since it just came out of nowhere.」
「For sure.」one of the Ivan’s friends said.
「Yeah, it’s such a dirty move.」another added.
「What you should’ve done was catch your opponent off guard, but you were the one caught off guard.」
「For the next forty days, you’re going to learn how to create openings like that. There’s no way you can win fair and square. On the thirtieth day, you’ll practice with Professor Mikhail and after that you’ll have to hold your ground once every day.」
「Can I really win then?」
「Right now you absolutely can’t. We’ll have to increase the weapons in your arsenal.」
「Yup. Here. Hold this shield.」
Claude was a surprisingly obedient student. He’d been fighting Ivan and the other Jarazack students with his one-handed, round shield.
At first, Luka was nervous, but soon she got used to it, or perhaps she just gave up and accepted what was going on; she offered ideas like jumping to the opponent’s side or picking up some stones beforehand.
Claude and Ivan’s fights were getting interesting, both of them never letting their guards down.
「Things are looking great.」Silvester said.
「Great how? Right now he only has a ten percent chance of winning against Professor Mikhail.」
「That low, huh?」
「He could try to catch the professor off his guard, but I’m sure Mikhail’s instincts can cover for him.」
「Then this training’s pointless.」
「There’s a different purpose for this training.」
「Ahuh… I’m guessing you won’t tell what that is.」
Hikaru’s goal was to make Claude forget about the moves and forms he learned so far. It’s best to learn various ways of fighting. As Claude mentioned, his techniques were more ritualistic. His knowledge and experience were an obstacle for him to improve through his Soul Board.
Claude said his job class was Ordinary One-handed Sword Ritual God: Swordsman of Honor6. Apparently that was his only sword-related job class. Its name suggested it wasn’t for battle at all.
Ivan’s was Great Sword Mental Frenzy God: Blade Barbarian – a six-character class. It usually appeared to those who were not good with finer sword techniques, but relied on brute force.
The King of Jarazack’s class was Great Sword Truth Seeker God: Blade Seeker – a five-character class that manifested among those who truly mastered the ways of the great sword. A bad match for Claude, however you looked at it.
First he needs to get a good job class. Then we’ll start from there.
Hikaru could only come up with this shortcut because of his ability to tweak Soul Boards. He couldn’t tell Silvester about that, of course. Since Claude trained with Ivan for now, Hikaru had time to do what needed to be done. To persuade the Queen.
Lavia looked dejected when Hikaru told her he would be gone for a few days. But there was nothing he could do about that. If he wanted to go to Forestzard and back quick, it was better to go alone.
His mask looked worn-out after using it too much, so he went to buy a new one in Forestzard’s flea market. The mask was designed to hide his eyes up to the tip of the nose and completely cover only his right cheek. It was a simple silver mark, with some patterns engraved near the edges. An engraver sold it to him, saying a rich merchant asked him to make it.
「Apparently he had a daughter with a burn from her forehead down to her right cheek. Since it was for regular use, he wanted something light and one that would stick to the face with even little mana. So I did. I asked a Magic Item Specialist for help with the magical part, though. Then the guy went bankrupt and I couldn’t sell it. How about it? I’ll sell it to you cheap.」the man said.
It cost him 500 gilans. When he put it on, he could indeed feel it sticking to his face. Not everyone could use Spirit magic, but every human had mana, if only little. Hikaru liked the simple mask. After wiping it with a cloth, it had a beautiful silver luster.
「You changed your mask.」Marquedo said with an unpleasant look the moment he visited her office. As always, Zofira was there as well.
「Your Majesty, let’s just give up and let him enter freely. I can only see him as a weird ally who occasionally exterminates pests for us.」
「You make it sound like I’m some kind of oddball who likes bugs.」Hikaru said.
「So did you find a spy today?」
「Nope. Looks like you’re doing a good job patrolling the place.」
「The air here’s better now. It looks awful, though.」
Zofira eyed the one of the stone pillars. A spy carved out a section of it before and was now replaced with wood. Hikaru could sense mana. There must be some kind of spell cast on it.
「I received a letter from Claude Zahad Kirihal. He was glad I introduced you to him.」Marquedo said with an unpleasant look, as always.
「Oh? That’s great, then.」
「What kind of trickery did you pull? I can’t imagine someone from the Zahad family ever thanking me.」
「Hey, you tried to use me too. Claude was turning into a misfit and you wanted to do something about it.」
「Oh, so you saw through my plan.」
「I’m not stupid.」
Although he only found out after Claude talked to him. In any case, it was clear to Hikaru that he couldn’t use the Queen that easily.
「So why are you here today?」Marquedo asked warily.
How do I put this…
「A matter will be brought up by Silvester G. Zubura on the last day of the Foundation Anniversary and I need you to vote for it.」